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Kids Can't Wait

Delaying a child’s health care for a year can mean a lifetime of consequences.

The increasingly severe recession is having a profound impact across America. The consequences of this economic meltdown are particularly difficult for children and low-income families who were already living on the edge of an economic disaster that may entail loss of livelihood, housing and health care. For children in particular, the unprecedented loss of stability and economic resources translates into a level of suffering not seen in recent times in the U.S.

By the end of this year it is predicted that more than 16.5 million children will be living in poverty – up from 12.8 million just two years ago.

And millions more will be facing chronic hunger, depending on government programs like school lunches and food stamps. One million children are now homeless and children are losing health insurance coverage at a rate of 3,000 each day since the recession began nearly 18 months ago. This translates to more than a million children newly uninsured, undermining some of the hard-won progress made in expanding federal programs aimed at reducing the number of kids without insurance in the U.S.

Without insurance and without alternative resources, millions of children will lose access to health care.

That means that many children with asthma will face serious complications, occasionally lethal, but frequently in the form of disabling attacks requiring hospital care and symptoms that greatly interfere with school performance. Undertreated ear infections may lead to unrecognized hearing deficits; and underappreciated developmental or emotional problems can become life-long burdens.  And it’s not just about health insurance.

Millions of children aren’t getting the health care they need because they face other challenging barriers.

Many families live in medical shortage areas with too few doctors and clinics; and nearly four million children can’t get to care because affordable transportation is not available in their communities. This means delayed care and extreme overuse of emergency rooms where care is suboptimal and costs are passed on to taxpayers.

While it is presumed that the recession will eventually end and new government programs will bolster the nation’s safety net programs, children remain extraordinarily vulnerable for the duration. Kids Can't Wait!